CyclingRoutes

Cycling Through The Nordic Countries

Lately we have started to plan our cycling route, which makes the whole thing that much more real, exciting and scary. I know we are not embarking on our journey for another year, but researching the route gives us something to look forward to. Especially in these times of Corona when our movements are restricted. I am still holding on to a sliver of hope that I could go to Finland for a couple of weeks in mid-August. But at the moment I’d still have to quarantine for two weeks on arrival. Not much point in going if I can’t see anyone.

I have used the maps from EuroVelo to plan our route. The website is great for anyone planning to cycle in Europe and has made finding an ideal route a lot easier. Read on to find out what the first leg of our journey looks like with a focus on The Nordic Countries.

(Those who know me well, know that one of my pet peeves is when Finland is classified as one of the Scandinavian countries. Because it isn’t!)

Norway – The Journey Begins

Cycling through Northern Norway
Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

Our journey begins in Norway, from a place called Nordkapp (North Cape). Initially, we had planned to begin our journey from Kinnarodden, which is the northernmost point of Europe. But when I researched Kinnarodden, it turns out it is not accessible by bike. To reach it would require hiking through some very demanding terrain, and according to a website for visitors to the area, it would take 10-12 hours on a good day. So we are leaving visiting Kinnarodden for another time. The journey will demand enough without a 46 kilometer hike to kick-start it.

The northern parts of Norway and Finland are ideal places for catching the midnight sun. We will begin our journey around the 21st August which means we will miss the best of the midnight sun experience but hopefully we will also miss the worst of the mosquitoes. If you ever have visited northern Europe in the summer, you will know that mosquitoes are a tiny but persistent pain in the backside. But hopefully, by the end of August, most of them will have disappeared.

From Nordkapp we will follow the EuroVelo 11 route to the Finnish border. Many people choose either the coastal route of Norway or cycling through Sweden when doing the north to south Europe ride, but there was no way we could bypass Finland. It gives me a chance to show Justin more of the beauty that is Finland.

Cycling Through Finland

Cycling through the Finnish lake district.
Photo by Taneli Lahtinen on Unsplash

We cross into Finland at the small town of Karigasniemi. From there we head slightly east before heading south and taking in some beautiful Lapland scenery with lakes and hills and forests. There are a range of routes we could take to reach the south of Finland, but we will cycle along the coast from Kemi to my hometown Raahe. There we will have a rest for a few days at hotel mum and dad.

When cycling in Finland (especially if it is a once-in-a-lifetime thing), I would definitely recommend cycling through central/south-east of Finland with its thousands of lakes. This is why from Raahe we will head to Jyväskylä and then south towards Helsinki.

My sister has a summer cottage about an hour from Helsinki. We will stop there for a couple of nights to rest our wary muscles in their wood sauna. There is nothing better for relaxing an aching body than the gentle heat of a wood sauna and a dip in the cold sea water. She blogs about their cottage life and you visit the blog here. Even if you cannot read a word of Finnish, her pictures are beautiful.

After a good rest, we will take a ferry from Turku, the former capital of Finland, to Sweden.

Swedish Options

Stockholm old town
Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash

The ferry will take us to Stockholm. From there we will take either EuroVelo 10 or head slightly west and join Route 7. The first option would take us along the southeastern coast of Sweden all the way to Malmo. The second option would take us across to the west coast and via Goteborg. Both options are very appealing.

We are looking forward to this part of the journey, whichever route we  take. Justin has never been to Sweden and I have never been further south than Stockholm, so I’m really looking forward to exploring the area. According to Visit Sweden we can expect picturesque landscapes as well as lush forests combined with a majestic coastline. Sounds good to me!

Cycling through Sweden will also give me the chance to practice my very rusty Swedish. It is actually the second official language of Finland and everyone has to learn it at school. I studied Swedish for ten years, but since living in the UK, I have not used it. As a result, I have forgotten most of it. It is a shame, really, so will have to brush up on it before we go.

Denmark – The Last Nordic Country on Our Cycling Route

Copenhagen
Photo by Maksym Potapenko on Unsplash

Depending on the route we take after Stockholm, we will cross to Denmark either from Malmo or from Helsingborg. Once in Denmark, I want to stop in Copenhagen for a couple of nights. I have heard so much about this city from friends that we cannot possibly pass this opportunity to explore it.

Sadly, we will only have time to explore a mere fraction of what Copenhagen has to offer, but if we kept stopping too long in places, it would probably take us a year to do this ride.

Our aim, for the record, is to do it in about three months. Many experienced cyclists do it in just over two months, so I think three months will be realistic for us. Well, for me, I’m sure Justin could do it in a shorter time.

From Copenhagen Route 10 leads us along the coastlines all the way to Germany.  From there we will switch between EuroVelo routes, this time for Route 13, known as The Iron Curtain Trail.

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Until next time.

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